Buccal Exostosis: Causes, Treatment and Care

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Inside every mouth are structures people may take for granted, but sometimes you may notice a structure in the mouth you have not seen before — and that can be scary. A buccal exostosis is one of these unexpected structures. It's a bony growth that projects from the outer side of the ridge of bone that surrounds the teeth. These projections often exist for years before people who have them notice. The good news about these structures is they are considered a variation of normal and often pose no health concern.

Causes and Diagnosis of Buccal Exostosis

According to a paper in Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism, the exact cause of this growth is unknown, though there may be many contributing genetic or environmental factors. Teeth grinding or clenching, a calcium-rich diet, excessive fish consumption, vitamin deficiency, sleep apnea and temporomandibular joint dysfunction are all potential causes of exostoses and tori.

A diagnosis occurs most often during a regular screening with your dentist. As the dental professional completes the initial assessment of all visible structures, they may notice thickened or protruding bone on the side of the upper or lower arch of teeth. They will likely take a photo or measure the structure to assess and document any growth that occurs over time.

Treatment for Buccal Exostosis

Currently, there is no necessary treatment recommended for buccal exostosis. Generally, a buccal exostosis causes no pain or sensitivity, though the skin covering the exostosis can be injured with sharp foods, such as potato chips or hard cereal. Unless you need a prosthesis made, such as a denture or partial denture, or unless the growths reach an unmanageable size, most dental professionals recommend monitoring the areas with routine checkups.

Home Care for Buccal Exostosis

Routine cleansing of the areas above and below the bony projections can remove food particles that may become lodged in the irregular surfaces on the gum tissue. Swish with a rinse, such as Colgate Total Advanced Health mouthwash, which removes 24x more bacteria for a healthier mouth.

While the growths may seem alarming, they're usually nothing to be too worried about. See your dentist for their recommendations on any treatment, if needed, and be sure to keep the surrounding gum tissue healthy with proper home care.

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  • Enamel – this is the outer and hardest part of the tooth that has the most mineralized tissue in the body. It can be damaged by decay if teeth are not cared for properly.

  • Dentin – this is the layer of the tooth under the enamel. If decay makes it through the enamel, it next attacks the dentin — where millions of tiny tubes lead directly to the dental pulp.

  • Pulp – this is the soft tissue found in the center of all teeth, where the nerve tissue and blood vessels are located. If tooth decay reaches the pulp, you usually feel pain and may require a root canal procedure.